Choosing a toothpaste

Confused by the choice of toothpaste?
Choosing which toothpaste to buy and use can be bewildering when you walk into your local supermarket, pharmacy or discount store. There is simply so much choice, with whitening toothpastes which guarantee to give you an overnight Hollywood Smile, sensitive toothpastes which claim that you can eat an ice-cube after just one use and toothpastes that claim to fix everything wrong with your mouth in just one week. Even we as professionals get confused by all the marketing hype!

Where do I start?
So to begin with we need to understand what a toothpaste is designed to do and what you want to do. Ultimately all toothpastes are designed to clean and strengthen your teeth, virtually all toothpastes on the market will do this for you, provided they include around 1500ppm Fluoride (for adults) which has been shown to strengthen and protect teeth.

What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring element which is found in the ground as hard mineral deposits such as Fluorite. It is also found in small quantities in seawater and in foods/drinks such as tea. Some areas of the UK have Fluoride added to the water ho help prevent tooth decay. Here in Devon our tap water does not contain Fluoride, so the only source of fluoride to strengthen your teeth is likely to come from your toothpaste.

Which toothpaste should I use?
Whilst there are many brands of toothpaste on the market, all with specific claims and formulations, essentially all the major branded toothpastes will do the same job in as much as they will clean and strengthen your teeth. As a general rule we would recommend that you choose any of the major branded ones as these ten to have more active ingredients and be of better quality than the cheaper ‘value’ brand toothpastes.

What about special sensitive and whitening toothpastes, do they work?
If you have a specific issue such as sensitive teeth then choose a toothpaste that has been specially formulated for this, such as Sensodyne or Colgate Sensitive.

Whitening toothpastes will not actually whiten your teeth, they simply remove stain to make your teeth look lighter. They do this by being abrasive, acidic or both, so be careful using whitening toothpastes on a regular basis as they can damage the enamel.

Which toothpaste should children use?
There are many toothpastes which are specially formulated for children, generally these are less minty (as children often don’t like very minty toothpastes) and contain less fluoride (as children do not need as much fluoride as an adult). Again with children’s toothpastes simply select a branded toothpaste appropriate for the child’s age.

As Devon does not contain any fluoride in the water the only source of fluoride your children will have is from toothpaste. We would therefore recommend at around age 5, children begin to use an adult toothpaste under supervision and advice from your dentist.

Brush for 2 minutes twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste
Spit the toothpaste out – don’t rinse it away with water as this washes away the protective effect of the fluoride